CSIRO's Data61 is Australia’s leading R&D data innovation group. Data 61 was tasked to refresh data.gov.au, Australia’s open data portal.
We created MAGDA, an open-source data portal. Magda is faster, simpler and federated (meaning data from other portals gets sucked into this one source like a sponge).
As the lead UX designer on a 10 person team, my focus was on facilitating clear goals, delivering customer-tested designs and ensuring accessible, inclusive design.
When I joined, the team had built a great microservices system and an early prototype. I conducted fast customer validation and then facilitated the team towards a clear hypothesis, problem statement and paper prototype.
We moved away from the assumption of the everyday user and focused on the people that keep on coming back to the service: government staff or businesses that work with the government. It was a big pivot based on qualitative data, but once we made it, we were able to make better product decisions, like placing a higher search relevance on machine-readable data formats.
It used to be really hard to find good data. Data users wouldn't be able to find things through search, so they would save bookmarks and make lists of datasets that they thought were useful for their job. Once they found a dataset, they would go to two pages to download it, then put it into a spreadsheet to visualise it. It's a long process that isn't a lot of fun.
Now, the search is improved and more relevant. Users can preview a dataset through chart, table and map previews. The user’s decision process used to take anything from half a day to 30 minutes, now it takes a couple of minutes.
Accessibility is always a strong point, but even more so when you’re building software for government clients. Data61 was an early adopter of the government's design system.